Invitation Digital Tech Blog

Building Scalable & Responsive Architecture

Creating dates for JSON

We have a JSON-based API that I like to test using Fiddler. However, passing dates is always a pain. When using the .NET DataContractSerializer (or ServiceStack.Text’s default), they look like /Date(323481600000)/ and I never seem to have a quick way of converting a standard date into this format.

Written By
Graham Clark

Automating the deletion of Application Versions in AWS

If, like us, you have a Continuous Integration (CI) service that runs all day, you can soon find that you’ve reached the Application Version limit in AWS of 1000. This can be a chore to resolve as it requires going into each Application, checking the tick box of any Application Versions you want to delete, before finally deleting. More than a couple of Applications and this can get pretty boring really fast! However by using the AWS Tools for Windows PowerShell, a PowerShell command can make this a thing of the past.

Written By
James Page

AWS Lambda: Event-driven systems made simple

Currently, when performing computation in the cloud it is standard to create some kind of a persistent application and host it on a Virtual Machine (VM). Persistent deployments, with their time-based billing, have become the basic model of cloud computing on platforms such as AWS and Microsoft Azure. However, event driven programming and related architecture has been positioned as the next evolution in cloud-based architecture. Many parts of a modern infrastructure are inherently event-driven or can be represented with an event-driven model but managing and reacting to all those events can require a complex infrastructure. Amazon is one cloud provider hoping to greatly simplify the development of event-driven systems.

Written By
Andrew Clowes

The Quality Conscience: The role of QA in a Scrum development environment

The traditional “waterfall” methodology approach to software development typically has little or no QA involvement until coding is complete. At this point, the QA is given a requirements document or a briefing that is used as a basis for test planning and execution.

The QA role in a Scrum Agile development environment is not just preparing and planning the test strategy, writing / executing test cases and reporting bugs. A Scrum team is by its nature cross-functional and self-organising; developers, business analysts, QAs et al all work together, finding the best solutions for the tasks in hand.

Written By
Simon Foley

SQL Locks. Table Locks. How to find out what is locking your table?

We have for a while been using sp_lock and sp_lock2 to determine locks on the database object but I have always found that to be cumbersome. Now that this is going to be deprecated in the future version of SQL Server we will need an alternative.

Luckily, Microsoft has a new view that provides this information in a much friendly easy to understand way, the sys.dm_tran_locks. As per MSDN, this view returns information about currently active lock manager resources in SQL Server. Each row represents a currently active request to the lock manager for a lock that has been granted or is waiting to be granted. It is also quite lightweight as the view is populated from internal lock manager data structures, and maintaining this does not add extra overhead.

Written By
Noman Mohammad Tee

Migrating from SQL Server 2012 Enterprise to AWS RDS SQL Server Standard with ZERO downtime


At IDL our infrastructure is hosted at AWS. We use SQL Server as our main DB while we utilise Mongo for reads. We were using SQL Enterprise version for a couple of years until recently when we decided to stop paying ridiculous amounts of money. We were using the Enterprise version primarily for 2 reasons, Change Data Capture or CDC and AlwaysOn Availability Groups. For quite sometime we were considering moving away from the Enterprise version down to Standard and started investigating RDS (Amazon’s Relational Database Service) as a potential option instead of setting up our own Mirroring (soon to be deprecated although that is what RDS uses under the hood) or Log shipping solution.

Written By
Noman Mohammad Tee

The State of Scrum at IDL

A short while back [in a moment of procrastination… I mean, ‘personal development’] I read a report on the State of Scrum. This research survey was a global one, asking project professionals from over 70 countries about Scrum & Agile and other methodologies.

Reading the report with our own context in mind helps to benchmark where we are good and where we can improve vs the other players in the industry and so I reviewed this report, largely to get a feel for what we can be proud of at IDL and what we might need to focus on improving during this year.

Written By
Richard Birch

The Re-Birth of Dealcloud

Dealcloud is a platform built by the creators of vouchercloud offering you savings of up 90% on restaurants, spas, experience days and events. In 2014 we took the decision to merge this service into vouchercloud where it became vouchercloud deals. Today we’re looking at re-launching Dealcloud. Or so it seems…

Written By
Owain Williams

Running 2.0 tests in TeamCity

The final 2.0 release of xUnit came out recently (NuGet). We use this testing framework for our automated tests as these tend to be longer-running than unit tests, and xUnit supports parallel execution. Although they have a nice GitHub-hosted site now, documentation for xUnit tends to be a little hard to find and a bit scattered over the web. So here are some simple instructions to get xUnit working both within Visual Studio and as part of a TeamCity build.

Written By
Graham Clark

Digital hoarders

With the proliferation of digital devices that are all capturing 0s and 1s, storing them to memory or duplicating them over the wire to a data center on the other side of the world isn’t it time we thought about a clean up?

Written By
Tim Barton

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